Study weight: Committee formed to address heavy backpacks

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With students literally crushed under the weight of their studies, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Department (E&SED) has ordered a probe to examine the occupational load of schools bags complete with their particulars and the negative consequences of they can have on the health of students.

In this regard, directions have been issued to form a committee. Heavy backpacks have raised concerns among parents over the impact this may have on a child’s spine and in turn their growth. The committee will also propose measures on how the weight can be reduced.

According to a statement issued by the of the education department, the committee would comprise of the E&SED special secretary, Provincial Institute for Teacher Education director and the director general of the health department.

The committee will examine and frame standards for the maximum weight of schoolbags considering the weight of students, international standards of bags weighing 10 per cent of body weight, the fact that students in a similar class may even be of different statures, and other issues.

It will also propose how to reduce the weight of books carried at any given time through timetable adjustments, class-work and homework staggering, books and notebook weight reduction through different printing methods, and even the use of e-books.

The committee will also a propose methodology for weighing bags at schools, communication of these health impacts on students to the public, teachers and students, including how to correctly wear the backpack.

It will also recommend design changes for furniture of government schools to include tables with storage capacity and locker space for students to store books which are not required to be carried home for homework, any other allied matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2018.